- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - A little more than four years ago, Sarah Burke was getting ready to watch the Olympics play out close to her home, wondering when her day under the rings might come.

The Canadian freeskiing star was frustrated because she knew all the snowboard events the public had fallen in love with looked every bit as good on skis.

“I also think it would’ve been a great opportunity, huge for myself and for skiing and for everyone, if we could’ve gotten into the Olympics,” Burke said in a January, 2010 interview with The Associated Press. “It’s sad. I mean, I’m super lucky to be where I am, but that would’ve been pretty awesome.”

A little over a year later, Burke’s dream was realized, when halfpipe skiing, along with slopestyle, were added to the program for the Sochi Games.


She is gone now, victim of a fatal accident while training on a halfpipe in Utah in 2012. She was 29 and would’ve been in her prime for Sochi - the likely favorite Thursday when the women take to the halfpipe when it makes its Olympic debut.

On the eve of “Sarah’s Games” as some of her former Canadian teammates have called it, here are five thoughts her husband, coach and friends shared with AP about one of the most important figures in their sport:

RORY BUSHFIELD, HUSBAND, JAN. 2014: “Her legacy will be long living, the fact that as long as halfpipe is thriving in the Olympics and a thriving sport, that alone will keep her name living and her legacy living. And on top of that, was just the amazing human that she was.”

PETER JUDGE, CEO CANADIAN FREESTYLE TEAM, JAN. 2012: “Sarah was the one who, in a very positive way, stood in the face of adversity and asked, ‘Why not?’ What she would have wanted was for her teammates and others in her sport to stand up and also say, ‘Why not?’ To benefit from the significant opportunities available to them, being able to compete in the Olympics and the X Games. Those were the things she wanted and cherished and fought for.”

MIKE RIDDLE, SILVER MEDALIST MEN’S HALFPIPE, FEB. 2014: “This Olympics for me is bittersweet. As happy as we are to be here, she should be here, too. She’s been on my mind a lot this week. I know she’d want to come and have us all do the best we can, just to show the world what halfpipe and slopestyle skiing is all about.”

MIKE HANLEY, FREESTYLE COACH, DEC. 2013: “A lot of people say she’s still the most influential girl in freeskiing today. She pushed the technical level of the sport so far. But she had such an amazing sense of balance in life between the image she put out and the level of technical skiing she was capable of. She was the full package that I’d hope all the girls out there are aspiring to.”

ROZ GROENEWOUD, CANADIAN HALFPIPE SKIER, JAN. 2014: “My goal is to step up to the position she had with her younger teammates. It’s a way to honor Sarah.”